Supporting the arts: What/Who is MIFA?

Special to the Eagle

Not everyone knows what the Marco Island Foundation for the Arts (MIFA) is all about. Started in 2003, MIFA is a 501 (c) (3) charitable non-profit organization on Marco Island whose mission is to support the visual, literary and performing arts in public places in Marco Island.

MIFA, is sometimes mistakenly as being part of the Marco Island Center for the Arts; but it is actually a separate organization. Working in conjunction with the center, MIFA has co-sponsored many events held at the center but remains its own entity.

Hyla Crane, center, accepts a grant from MIFA for the Children's Summer Art Program at the Marco Island Center for the Arts from board members Clara Alber, Karen Swanker, Claire Keery and Carolyn Burger.

The Left Bank Artfest held Sunday’s at the Esplanade and at the Center for the Arts is sponsored by MIFA. The Brushes and Paint Outdoor Art Show and Sale held on the porch area of the Marco Island Historical Museum is sponsored by MIFA. Student scholarships are awarded by MIFA. The foundation also works with the Marco Island Chamber of Commerce during their annual Wet Paint Live fundraiser. The Winter Film Series shown at Marco Movies is sponsored by MIFA.

Proceeds from these events are given back to the community through grants, scholarships, recognition of outstanding area artists and placement of outdoor art and sculpture around the island.

The MIFA scholarship program provides financial support to area students currently enrolled in the arts – whether it be dance, music, art, literature or theater. The scholarships are awarded at a luncheon each spring. MIFA has been giving out scholarships since 2009.

Also awarded at the luncheon is the prestigious honor of being named Artist of the Year. This award is based on nominations submitted to MIFA from local groups or individuals.

Previous Artists of the Year include Malenda Trick, Tara O’Neill, J.Robert Houghtaling and for 2017,  curator of the Marco Island Historical Museum, Austin Bell.

Pat Rutledge, center, accepts a donation for the Marco Island Historical Society from MIFA board members Clara Alber and Karen Swanker.

The most visual sculpture on the island is the Double Eagle sculpture at Sarazen Park which was a joint project with MICA – Marco Island Civic Association. And, the colorful tiles that accent the columns at Mackle Park’s children’s water dish were painted by local school children through a program supported by MIFA.

You’ve noticed the sweet sculpture of a man and young boy sitting on a bench at the Marco Island Public Library? Funded by MIFA. Art exhibits in the library by local artists – sponsored by MIFA.  

At the end of this 2017-2018 season, two monetary gifts were given by MIFA. One was from the silent auction sales at the February Brushes & Paint Outdoor Art Show. Artwork was donated by participating artists for a silent auction table – proceeds were given to The Marco Island Historical Society. A second donation covered a grant request from the Marco Island Center for the Arts to fund their 2018 Children’s Summer Art Workshops.

The foundation is always looking for new members and volunteers to join the organization. MIFA meets every third Tuesday of the month at 4:15 p.m.  the Iberia Bank community room.

For more complete history, information and list of programs and events, visit their website at